Lance Weller Novelist. Awkward.

Thirty-five years after the Civil War's Battle of the Wilderness left him maimed, Abel Truman has found his way to the edge of the continent, the rugged, majestic coast of Washington state, where he lives alone in a driftwood shack with his beloved dog.  WILDERNESS is the story of Abel, now an old and ailing man, and his final journey over the snowbound Olympic Mountains.  It's a quest that he has little hope of completing but must undertake to settle matters of the heart that predate even the horrors of the war.


Excerpt from WILDERNESS

As he sat rocking and watching the flames at their work, the old man did not yet know that he was going, and yet, hunched before his fire, he could feel something within him shift.  Beside him, the dog sensed his despair and knew what the old man did not and knew that he would soon be traveling.  The dog also knew they would not return.  It knew these things the same way a dog knows well the heart of the man it loves and understands it in better ways than the man could ever hope.  The old man patted the dog's head absently, and the dog looked up at him a moment before settling its chin upon its forepaws and closing its eyes.


 "Here is a book in the great tradition of the novel: a vivid world that  wraps and holds the reader who can well lose himself in its grandeur. The  character is the beloved Abel Truman. The landscapes are huge. Abel’s story is both simple and rich, the novel unforgettable."

Annie Dillard

"Lance Weller’s magnificent Wilderness is a brilliant, singular achievement. Now and again comes a novel that is so wholly its own that any comparison shrivels away. Lance Weller has given us this not only in the tale, which is deeply compelling and superbly page-turning, but, most importantly, in his book’s thoughtful and illuminating exploration of who we are and how we got here. These people are heartrendingly beautiful, fragile and resilient but also ugly, hateful and hurtful. And Weller masterfully raises the stakes as he draws these webs of humanity with prose constructed with compelling art and ease."

—Jeffrey Lent, author of In the Fall

 "Wilderness reawakens in us what we knew while discovering for the first time the work of the great writers—what it means to fall into the lives of characters riveting in their complexity, and to be so utterly transported into a tale and compelled through its pages.  Set in the war-torn South and the wilds of the Pacific Northwest, this is the story of a country torn in two and of the hard healing afterward, of Abel Truman, a simple soldier, who journeys through the savagery of war and lawless men to a place of redemption.  An exquisite telling, Lance Weller’s language evokes the moments that otherwise render us mute. This book is a knockout."

—Claire Davis, author of Winter Range  and Season of the Snake

 “Rendered in powerful, richly detailed language that is at once grim and deeply moving, Wilderness interweaves the heartbreaking narratives of Civil War survivors—veterans, civilians, former slaves—whose lives are wrecked by unthinkable violence yet sustained by the tragic beauty still to be found in the world. Lance Weller writes with a quiet urgency that brings an immediacy to the past in the damaged bodies and haunted souls of his characters. A magnificent achievement!” 

-John Pipkin, author of Woodsburner

 "Wilderness is a masterful novel of incident and redemption, hugely entertaining, full of pathos and humanity—frankly, it's hard to believe that  it's a debut.  Fans of Charles Frazier and Cormac McCarthy alike will thrill at Weller’s luminous prose and clear-eyed moral vision."

Jonathan Evison, bestselling author of West of Here and All About Lulu

 "In Wilderness, Lance Weller uses an archaic, lyrical language to create not  simply prose, but a song, a dirge and lamentation, that strips all glory and pride from the thunderous bloodletting of the Civil War as rudely and completely as a surgeon’s bone saw removes a mangled leg.  This beautifully crafted tale of the transformational period between the nation’s most horrific cataclysm and the end of the century is peopled with  characters fully formed and vivid, noble and depraved, who will linger in the  reader’s mind long after the last page has been turned."

—Lynn Schooler, author of Walking Home and The Blue Bear

 "Any war, whether it is the American Civil War or the Vietnam War, inflicts wounds and many scars. Physical and mental scars. Truman carries both and finds they will not let him go. As in Karl Marlantes’ Matterhorn the reader is living in the battle with the men screaming when the metal bullet peels by their ear, watching their buddies get blown up right in from of them, the smell of burning flesh, both human and horse, penetrating their nostrils until they can almost no longer breathe. Much credit is due to Lance Weller, this incredibly talented writer who can bring to life such a battle as The Wilderness. Weller has crafted a novel of stories within stories, all interwoven in prose so exquisite and descriptive that you will want to read Wilderness more than one time, and all in one sitting to capture this novel in its salvific beauty. Put aside your day, open up Wilderness and take a dive into this fabulous work of fiction."

—Annie Philbrook, Bank Square Books

  "Lance Weller’s Wilderness is a remarkable novel. It reads like a dream of history, and reads at a fever pitch. Its description of the carnage in the Battle of the Wilderness is so vivid and unrelenting that readers will never forget it. Yet at the novel’s heart is a gentle and diffident man who touches us with his humanity and courage. This is a stunning first novel."

—John Vernon, author of Lucky Billy



WILDERNESS is available in English, French and Italian.

A Sampling of Reviews 

 "Weller’s novel will, inevitably, be compared to Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain, which really benefits only the marketing people. Frazier wrote a good novel, yes; nonetheless, it is his book that suffers by comparison. Wilderness is so full and rich in its imagery and use of language, yet there is no word at all that might reasonably be cut from the text, that it reads like an extremely long narrative poem; an epic ballad of the war that, for many purposes, it might be said that Americans are still fighting....This is a truly exceptional novel about a fully American moment—one we reenact regularly, struggling to heal what the poet Wendell Berry calls our “hidden wound.”  Weller’s novel is an admirable treatment for it. "

-Sacramento News & Review (full review available here)

 "...there have been relatively few books that have elicited such a strong reaction from me. I'm thinking this is going to make the top ten list for the year.  Wilderness is Lance Weller's debut novel and if it was this good I can't wait to see what he does with his next one."

-Bippity Boppity Book (full review available here)

   "This is an intense and richly descriptive debut that sets sensory, shocking scenes of war against a wild, dramatic American landscape and a powerful story of human compassion in the face of suffering."

-We Love This Book (full review available here)

 “Riveting…Comparisons to Charles Frazier's 1997 "Cold Mountain" are inevitable, but this may be the better book.”

-Jackson Free Press (for full review available here)


 “Tender and resonant, Weller's debut is not an epic saga of war, but a skillful exploration of the interconnectedness of humanity and the endurance of compassion.”

Shelf Awareness

 "Wilderness pulls no punches. The novel's descriptions are so visceral, the main character's struggles so gut wrenching, that it demands an equally full-bodied response from its reader. Within the book's pages are violence, yes, and death, sickness and guilt –– all the hard things. But the most powerfully moving moments are those in which dark themes are momentarily vanquished, and the narrative's thin stream of hope, redemption and humanity rises to the surface."

-High Country News (full review available here)


"War and remembrance combine powerfully in this rugged debut novel of the horrors of combat and the fierceness of nature."

 -Publishers Weekly (full review available here)

“[An] elegiac story…Weller describes Northwest scenery with masterful detail.”

Seattle Times (full review available here)


Wilderness can be purchased at the following retailers as well as at your local independent bookstore.